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U.S. Wins Gold!
Julia Mancuso crowned queen of the Alpine women's giant slalom
By Allison Gilroy
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Julia Mancuso
Julia Mancuso of the United States makes a turn during the first run of the Women's Giant Slalom at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Sestriere Colle, Italy, Friday, Feb. 24, 2006.

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    (Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AP Wide World)
  • Friday, February 24—Julia Mancuso to the rescue! The 2006 Winter Olympics were a disappointment for U.S. Alpine skiers, both men and women. But Julia Mancuso of the U.S. helped ease the pain with a big win in the women's giant slalom.

    It was the final Alpine event on the slopes of Sestriere, Italy.

    Only two Americans took part. The other was Stacey Cook. Cook didn't get so far, but Mancuso did.

    Here is how it turned out. Anna Ottosson of Sweden won the bronze medal. Tanja Poutiainen of Finland won the silver. The gold went to Mancuso. It was the first U.S. Olympic Alpine medal since Picabo Street won the super-G in Nagano in 1998.

    "My first thought was, 'Oh, my gosh! This is unbelievable!"' Mancuso said, with her signature fake tiara on her head. She often skies with the tiara for good luck.

    "It was perfect timing," said her coach Patrick Riml, who had given her the plastic crown as a good luck charm several years ago. "She skied beautifully."

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    Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister
    Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister poses with her two gold medals in Sestriere in Italy Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister poses for photographers in Sestriere with her two gold medals after winning the women's Alpine skiing super-G race at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games in San Sicario, Italy February 20, 2006. Dorfmeister previously won gold in the women's downhill race.
    (Photo: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)
    Austria and Crotia are Super-G
    U.S. women fail to perform in tough alpine ski event
    By Molly Majewicz
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Monday, February 20—It was another disappointing day for the U.S. alpine skiers. Lindsey Kildow, despite a terrible fall in the downhill training run, placed 7th in the Super-G finals. Surprisingly, it was the best finish for the American team.

    Of the other U.S. skiers who competed in the Super-G, Julia Mancuso placed 11th, Kirsten Clark placed 14th, and Libby Ludlow placed 28th. Mancuso said she thought the new course was too easy because it had less turns than other Super-G runs and she was a more technical skier.

    Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria won her 2nd gold medal in the Torino games. Janica Kostelic of Croatia won the silver medal. Kostelic had not planned to ski the Super-G because she was ill. But when the race was moved from Sunday to Monday because of a blizzard, Kostelic had time to recover and compete.

    Alexandra Meissnitzer, also from Austria, won the bronze bringing Austria's medal total to nine, one short of their goal.

    Super-G stands for Super Giant Slaloms. Slaloms have blue and red flags called gates scattered in pairs throughout the course. Skiers have to go around the gates as fast as they can.

    Super Giant Slaloms are 'giant' because the trail is longer and more like downhill skiing than the Giant Slalom. Super Giant Slaloms are 'super' because there are more gates to go through than downhill racing.

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    Janica Kostelic
    Croatia's Kostelic passes a gate during the women's super-G at the Winter Olympic Games at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in San Sicario, Italy, February 20, 2006.
    (Photo: Ruben Sprich/Reuters)
    Injuries Plague U.S. Women
    Croatia, Austria, Sweden win medals in women's combined alpine skiing
    By Mariama Anderson-Dione
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Saturday, February 18—Some 67 miles south of Torino, Italy, in San Sicrio Fraiteve, Janica Kostelic of Croatia became the first woman to win four gold medals in women's combined alpine skiing. She accomplished this feat even though she was so sick she thought she wouldn't be able to ski.

    Marlies Schild of Austria won the silver. Anja Paerson from Sweden won the bronze.

    In women's combined, the skiers complete one downhill run and two slalom runs. Women with the three fastest combined times win medals.

    A downhill run is a steep descent. A slalom is a short race with sharp turns around flags. The downhill competition began on Friday but was postponed because of high winds. The competition quickly switched to the two slaloms. Downhill skiing was completed today.

    U.S. athletes participating were Julia Mancuso, Resi Stiegler, Kaylin Richardson, and Lindsey Kildow, who came in 9th, 11th, 17th and 33rd , respectively.

    Lindsey Kildow was the U.S. team's best chance for a medal but she hurt herself during a training run. She skied the slaloms on Friday and fell on the second run, injuring herself further. She did not compete in the downhill on Saturday.

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    Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister
    Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister on her way to win the gold medal in the women's downhill race at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 15, 2006.

    (Photo: Ruben Sprich/Reuters)
    Austrian Dream Come True
    One of the world's most decorated Alpine skiers finally gets her gold
    By Jennifer Shapp
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Wednesday, February 15—It was a dream come true for Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister. The world champion downhill skier finally added an Olympic gold medal to her collection of world titles. Now, as the oldest woman to ever win an Olympic downhill medal, she plans to retire. Dorfmeister is 33.

    "It's like a dream," Dorfmeister said. "I didn't sleep for two nights because I was under so much pressure. But this morning I felt very relaxed, and when I took the lift to the start, I said, 'Today, I'll do it.'"

    Also winning medals in today's competition at San Sicario, near Torino, Italy, were Martina Schild of Switzerland, who took silver, and Anja Paerson, of Sweden, who won the bronze.

    Four Americans participated in this event: Julia Mancuso, Lindsey Kildow, Stacey Cook, and Kirsten Clark. Although no American won a medal, Lindsey Kildow turned in an inspirational performance after having been hurt in an accident while training two days earlier. She came in eighth skiing at what she called 70 percent of her ability.

    "I knew this course inside and out, so it's disappointing," she said.

    Mancuso came in seventh. Nineteenth place belonged to Stacey Cook, and finally 21st place went to Kirsten Clark. In this event there were 40 athletes participating from 18 different countries.

    Downhill Alpine skiing is the longest course in the skiing events, with the highest speeds. Each skier comes down the almost 2-mile-long slope once. The fastest one down wins. The course has many turns, is very icy, and has big jumps.

    Women's Alpine skiing competition continues Friday, February 17 with the combined, an all-day event requiring a downhill run and two slaloms. Super-G is set for Sunday, February 19.

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    Bode Miller of the United States at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, on February 12, 2006.
    Bode Miller of the United States at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, on February 12, 2006.
    (Photo: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)
    French Surprise
    Bode Miller misses out in the Alpine Men's Downhill event.
    By Joe Wlos
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    February 12, 2006—On a snow-covered mountainside near Torino, Italy, today, a man considered a long shot in the Alpine Men's Downhill event skied his way to Olympic history. In a surprising downhill run, Antoine Deneriaz of France won the gold medal. He bested two American favorites, Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves.

    "It would have taken a hurricane wind to get me into first," Miller said. "The way Deneriaz skied today, he was pretty much untouchable."

    Miller, a popular American skier who was recently featured on several magazine covers, finished 5th in the event. Daron Rahlves, who was also expected to bring home a medal, finished in a disappointing 10th place. Their teammates, Scott Macartney and Steve Nyman, finished in 15th and 19th places.

    Austria's Michael Walchhofer won the silver medal and Switzerland's Bruno Kernen won the bronze.

    Alpine skiing originated in the late 1800s in the Alps, a mountain range in Europe. In this sport, the athlete must maneuver down a winding course while skiing at speeds of around 80 miles an hour. It is a popular recreational activity in both North America and Europe.

    The Olympic course in Sestriere Borgata is 9,184 feet above sea level, 10,821 feet long, and drops 2,998 feet from beginning to end. The already-tough course was covered with dense, icy snow making it even harder to maneuver.

    Early on, the silver medalist, Austrian Michael Walchhofer, made a slick run down the mountain with a time of 1:49.52. It proved to be a tough time to beat.

    Miller decided to use new skis for this race, hoping they would give him a competitive edge. He had only received the skis that morning. He was unable to beat Walchhofer's time. Miller told reporters he was unhappy with the way he skied, but not with the new equipment.

    After seeing his teammate fail to place, Rhalves, who also had new skies, hurriedly switched back to his old skis. It didn't do him any good either.

    As the last skier prepared to come down the mountain, even the NBC announcers were congratulating Walchhofer for what looked like a gold medal run. But his time was bested by a few tenths of a second by the last skier. Deneriaz took an early lead of 0.72 seconds and held onto it.

    At the bottom of the run, he was greeted by a roaring crowd waving his nation's flag. It was truly an Olympic moment, watching the last skier take the gold when many people believed the race was already won.

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    Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.